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Child Support

Child support is one of the vital issues in custody or divorce proceedings. Essentially, child support refers to the financial maintenance of the child, which is usually the responsibility of the parents. In legal proceedings, child support implies the responsibility of one of the parents to make provisions for meeting the essential needs and expenses of the child/children of the parents. The child support may be monthly, annual, lump sum, or the agreed upon periodic payments that will cover for expenses, like clothing, food, education expenses, lodging, transportation, etc. The claim for child support is entertained by both civil as well as criminal courts.

Eligibility for Child Support

Generally, the child is entitled to receive child support till the time he/she attains the age of majority or his/her emancipation. However, this rule is not strictly followed by all States. For instance, some States have no fixed age for emancipation; rather, there are several factors that are considered in determining the age of emancipation. Some of these factors include marital status of the child, employment status of the child, whether the child has joined military duties, whether he is studying or working full-time or adjudged emancipated by any competent court. But in most of the cases, itís the 18th birthday of the child, which is the cut-off date for the entitlement of child support, except dependent and disabled children on whom the age restriction does not apply.

Obligation for Payment of Child Support

In most cases, it is the primary responsibility of the non-custodial parent to meet the expenses related to child support. The custodial parent has the responsibility towards rearing of the child with the help of child support received from the non-custodial parent. There may be circumstances where a single-parent is bringing up the child, who shall be responsible for meeting the expenses of the child. And in cases where the issue of custody of the child is decided by the courts or through a non-legal entity under Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism, the child support is borne by the non-custodial parent. However, it is not always the case where the full responsibility of meeting child support expenses vests with the non-custodial parent. Various States and some courts depart from the usual practice and may entrust part of child support payment to the custodial parent as well.

There may be the case of joint custody of the child where both parents agree to share responsibilities towards and authorities over, the child. In all such case, both parents shall be deemed as custodial parents. But this does not strictly mean that child support is the responsibility of both the parents. It could be that one of the parents earns significantly more than the other, and in such cases, the higher-income parent could be required to meet the expenses towards child support.

In cases of unmarried parents of a child, the biological father of the child is required to pay child support expenses. And in case, a man holds out a child as his own or welcomes it into his domicile, such man would be presumed to be the father of the child for child support purposes.

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